Posts tagged with: Dogs

Who Believes the Experts?

Happy Saturday or rather, as we say at the Joanie household, CATurday 😀

Wassup? Sure I love ya Mom....got nip?

Wassup? Sure I love ya Mom….got nip?

Yep, this is ANOTHER cat blog.

I’m not going to expound on the talent, personality and beauty of my two baby cats. (Not until the third paragraph anyway) but just asking our BB’s their opinion.

I’m addicted to watching animal shows. Cats, dogs, the occasional black-footed ferret. I love the silly antics, the unusual situations they find themselves in. I blame the HUMANS in every episode of My Cat from Hell. But I think I’ve learned a lot and have come to appreciate the doggy yings to my kitty yangs.

But NBC had a show on last night meant to “enlighten” us pet owners. Those aren’t REAL doggy kisses…they just want to taste what you had for lunch. That’s not guilt or happiness when then lower their heads or wag their tails it’s just…some type of mundane inborn behavior.

I say poppycock!

What did you say Mom?

What did you say Mom?

My baby cats DO care about me, they love me and comfort me and yes…they obey my commands. Um, on the fortieth command but they do listen to me. (Excuse me…GRAYSON!!! GET OFF OF THE BOOKCASE!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes. So I say the experts are just grumpy people who don’t “get” their pets.

What about you? Does your pet show affection? Can they do tricks? What’s an annoying habit (GRAYSON) or “thing” they do that drives you nuts? What about those “shaming” pics (I HATE those…poor pups and kitties)? Like them or not?

 

 

Waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

I can wait. I can…for awhile.

But it’s hard. All of us have instances in our everyday lives of waiting for something: the light to turn green, the grocery line to move, a tax refund to arrive. The lottery to draw your numbers :0

But some of the hardest waiting is in…appropriately named…waiting rooms. I recently had a new perspective on the whole waiting for medical news front.gailor

My cat had surgery.

I know that there are lots of animal lovers here in The Lair and I’m certain with much more dramatic stories to tell than mine. And thank goodness, Grayson’s issue was not life or death. (He had a polyp removed from his eardrum) but still…it was surgery and yes, the nurse in me fretted over anesthesia, safe extubation, medication tolerance, him missing his mommy!

The vet’s staff told me I could “drop him off”. What? Would I just drop off Mom for cataract surgery? Leave my brother alone in the ER? Not BE there? Oh, heck to the no.

So, I waited. As with human procedures, Grayson’s surgery was late starting. But I waited and saw the ins and outs of the world of animal medicine:

1. A family brought in their beloved companion who had passed at home. I was there across from the room when the daughter came out from saying goodbye. (heart clench)

2. A woman rushed in with a cat who’d been hit by a car. It didn’t make it. (Tears fell).

3. I met a Chihuahua named Tequila, a poodle named RooRoo and a hamster named Chuck

4. I observed an anxious, older gentleman who’d come to pick up his pup after a 4 day stay. (Seriously, if Grayson had had to stay I WOULD have been in the cage with him OR…parked out in the lot overnight. There was a 24 hour McD’s next door.) After many agonizing minutes, they brought his precious boy out. He exclaimed “Hey Sparky! How’s Daddy’s boy?” (heart clenched)

As you can imagine, I was an emotional wreck until the Dr. came out and said it was done. A bit more invasive than we’d hoped but I could take him home after a few hours. I got to go back to “recovery” where the poor little boy was lolling around still loopy from the medicines. But I crooned and reassured him and counted the minutes till we headed back home…cone and all. And to Cricket’s welcoming hiss 😀

Yeah. The cone. He had a bit of a time with it though he did better than me! But we both managed for 7 days,unexpected incision staple trip and finally a “looking good.”  I’m elated at his good result and have a whole  admiration for veterinary medicine.

This is not Grayson but his stunt double. &^%$& / WordPress wouldn't accept my phone pictures! Gahh

This is not Grayson but his stunt double. &^%$& / WordPress wouldn’t accept my phone pictures! Gahh

Tell me about your pets! Any stories from the vet? Any advice for Grayson as he recovers?

My heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Kim Lachy and Dr. Rusty Gailor and their staff for taking care of my little guy!

Freedom!

Freedom!

Another Type of Valentine Love

It started at a traffic light.

Naw….not “true love”. Nope, Prince Charming hasn’t found me yet, so I doubt he’d find his way to a cross walk 😀

I’m talking about the idea for this post. I watched a young, visually impaired young lady traverse the busy street with her guide dog. Sure, I’ve seen lots and lots of animals helping out those with difficulties (heck, even saw a GREAT DANE a few days later) but it reminded me not only of the love so many of us hold for animals, but the special bond…the love and devotion these guardians have with their helpers.dogs

So the seeing eye dog has been around a long time. Dogs trained to guide their peeps around daily life. All with commands and the help of a working harness. I know the rule is not to pet or talk to the dog like…um…a dog while they are on duty but man I just want to ruff their little faces and say “good job!”

Service animals have expanded SO much. There are now dogs trained to alert deaf people to sounds such as smoke alarms, doorbells etc. Therapy animals who help with detection of illness crisis i.e. imminent seizures or sugar drops. The role of animals has blossomed in the treatment and healing of thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD and children with autism. Autism results for some have provided increased focus, socialization and general increase in contentment.

Common dog breeds according to the Google are Golden Retrievers, Collie, Labrador, German Shepherd though most sites emphasized it was more temperament than breed that led to a helper dog. A main key is training from a young age.

cat autism

And it’s not only dogs, thankyouverymuch, but many cats have proved to be there for us when we need them. While there is some debate about the trainability of cats for specific efforts (Grayson! Did you just snicker at the word “training”? Hmmm?) there is no doubt that they are attuned to their guardians and their needs. Numerous instances are cited of behavior change when somebody is about to have a seizure etc. Their purring is known to lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol levels, anxiety.

The kittehs. They know. Last August I took a spill at work, slammed my head on concrete, gashed my forehead. I was allright…even drove myself home but I didn’t need to feel alone. Once I settled in my chair I immediately had Grayson on my CHEST staring over his shoulder at me and Cricket about an inch from my face. I’m still working on teaching them to call 911 if I ever need it (they keep licking the tuna off the numbers) but it was very soothing for me and mitigated the effects of the concussion I convinced the doctors I didn’t have 😀

So dogs and cats and also miniature horses who fall under the same ADA guidelines as service dogs (they pull wheelchairs) are geared to give us a hand. Oh! And monkeys! Capuchin monkeys are being trained to help quadriplegics. pony

So this Valentine’s Day love the one you’re with and love the one who is there for you–kibble and all.

What about you? Do you have a service animal that helps you out? Know somebody who does? How does your pet help you in life? (Anybody got a Husky helping them out in the snow?)

valentine kitty

Romance Book Covers – the Pleasure, the Pain

I hear a lot of opinions from people about the covers of romance novels. Some of these are informed opinions by romance readers and writers, who notice trends in cover composition and layout. I always welcome discussions about cover art, because all of us who write romantic fiction want beautiful covers. For those of us who have ventured into the waters of independent publishing, covers are dependent in part on our own taste, opinions and vision. So I love to talk covers with whoever will stand still long enough to listen.

Kick StartThen there are those of my acquaintance who do not (and may have never) read romance fiction. Do they love to opine about covers? Of course they do! Sometimes this is merely the topic of a casual conversation or to, say, rib a sister who happens to write these books. But sometimes it is more. A compilation of the best (or worst) covers of the year. A gleefully nasty “review” of the worst covers someone could find. Or an article by someone who figures their literary tastes are far above mere genre fiction and get pleasure from deriding not only the covers but, by association, the content of romance novels. I have little use for these types of opinions, although I will admit that I have enjoyed some articles where the authors themselves have lamented the art department’s lack of vision.

 

Today, I would like us to talk about covers. What we like, what we don’t. What works in a particular subgenre or should be banned from all romances of a certain sort. To get the conversation started, I’ll throw out some particular likes and dislikes of mine.

 

Taste For Trouble1. Feet On Contemporary Romances – Okay, yes, that is the cover for my May 2013 release, Kick Start up above and, yes, it does have those feet I love. But here is another for Susan Sey’s wonderful Taste For Trouble. I don’t know why, but feet totally work for me in a contemporary romance. They manage to convey a sense of time, place and tone for a book. Also, I am free to use my imagination for the heroine’s and hero’s faces, which I much prefer doing.

 

SavannahBreeze2. Abandoned Articles On the Beach Covers – Tossed-aside shoes. Empty pails with their lonely shovels. Sandy beach towels. These covers are often women’s fiction novels with a strong romantic element and I do not like them. First of all, it puts me in mind of scorching hot sand. Second, it reminds me of gritty sand between my toes. I don’t like either of those things, so these covers don’t work for me. I also don’t particularly care for seascapes or empty Adirondack chairs. I have no idea what these are supposed to convey. I do like lighthouses, but not alone on a women’s fiction cover. Go figure. I have to say, this Mary Kay Andrews book was great fun to read, but I could have done without the empty chairs.

 

bridemoon3. Gorgeous Gowns On Historical Romances – I adore these! We’ve had some incredibly gorgeous gowns on Bandita covers. Here is one I loved, Liz Carlyle’s A Bride By Moonlight. I have no idea whether the heroine wears anything like this in the book, since I read it months ago, but does it matter? It’s a delicious pool of lace and satin. *sigh* Liz’s October 2013 release, In Love With a Wicked Man also has a gorgeous dress, rich red and gold, and there is a beautiful purple dress for the release after that. They have really nailed the gorgeous dress cover at Avon!

 

Love is a Four-Legged Word4. Dogs On Romance Covers From Any Time Period – I know people will disagree on this one, but I am not fond of a happy couple with a dog at their feet (or the foot of their bed). I have lived with many dogs and one thing I know is, no matter how cute they are they do not belong in the middle of a romantic embrace. Or on the bed. They generally smell bad and have terrible breath, even the ones I love dearly. Sorry, y’all, but those are facts. I’m sure Kandy Shepherd is a delightful author and the dogs in her books are probably cute as anything, but that pug does not need to be on a book cover. Let the gnashing of teeth begin!

 

Castles In the Air5. Scottish Castles On Medievals – I absolutely love a medieval cover featuring a castle. I don’t much care if there are people at all, but I do love a castle. I have no idea where regular people lived in medieval Scotland, but I know that my hero and heroine are going to live in a castle or a keep, by gum, and I want to see it. I’ve seen other lovely medieval covers, but I want my castles (and moors! and lochs!). And really, if you had a castle like that in the background, would you be lounging about on the ground in your white dress? I think not!

 

What about you? Are there any types of covers that really catch your eye? Any that make you cringe? (Don’t even get me started on cartoon covers!) Please share with us!

I’m going to be away for a good part of the day at a church retreat, so I won’t be back until late afternoon. Y’all carry on without me, though, because I know there are LOTS of opinions in the Lair! 😀

Kittehs Own the Internet

According to an article my husband read recently, the only thing occupying more space on the internet than pornography is…cats. Being sort of a cat person, I understand why others might be fascinated with our feline friends, but I also know a fair number of dog people who just don’t get the kitteh phenomenon. Here are my top 5 reasons I think cats have taken over the internet:

 

by Robert Nilson – FreeDigtialPhotos.net

 

1. Mystery– Cats possess a sphinx-like demeanor. You can’t read their facial expressions and most cat owners would not try to guess what they are thinking. Dogs are much easier to read. They give you lots of smiles and tongues out and sighs to let you know what they want or what sort of mood they’re in. Cats don’t give you much, expression-wise. We are left to wonder and guess and, inevitably, disappoint out cats. Perversely, this only heightens the mystery of the kittehs.

 

by Carlos Porto – FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

2. Cuteness– Kittens and puppies are both adorable, yet the sheer fluffiness of kittens makes them irresistible to all but the most hardened of hearts. Big, round eyes, fuzzy ears, puffball tails – what’s not to love? Puppies tend to be cute in a clownish, goofy way, while kittens quickly grow graceful. While cats quickly leave their almost-too-cute kittenish qualities behind them, the cute lingers in our brains.

 

by Virginia Ripple – Flickr WANA Commons

 

 

3. Indulgence– Cats epitomize all that is luxurious and indulgent in life. They spent much of their time napping, often in warm, sunny spots near windows. They stretch, they curl, they defy gravity in both their napping positions and the ways they wake from naps. Cats are hedonists and I think, at heart, we all wish we could indulge ourselves the way cats do.

 

 

4. Discretion – Cats keep secrets. Whatever happens near the kitteh stays with the kitteh. You can spill your guts to a cat, tell them all your darkest fears and fantasies. No one will ever know. Dogs are open, adorable, loving and gregarious…but they are not keepers of heartbreak and pathos. Cats keep to themselves and, while they are fabulous listeners, do not gossip. Some may say this is because they don’t care enough to remember what you tell them, but I choose to believe they are simply the most discreet of pets.

 

by Willem Siers – FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Anonymity – The article my husband read said this is the main reason cats are so popular. It’s largely due to the Japanese that cats are so omnipresent on the internet. The Japanese admire cats tremendously. They have an expression that says the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. In Japanese culture, it is important not to call attention to oneself. Cats are masters at blending in, which is apparently why the Japanese adore them. I have always admired the self-sufficiency of cats. If we make sure there is food in the automatic feeder and water available, our cat easily takes care of himself for a week. While dogs long for companionship and often cannot be trusted to regulate their own feeding, cats just handle it. I had never equated this with blending in or anonymity, but I suppose it’s along the same lines. Dogs want people to pay attention to them, but cats are happy to hang in the shadows. Unless they decide they want you – and they usually don’t – you don’t need to know they are there.

 

We just returned from vacation and our cat is quite perturbed we felt we could “abandon” him for so long. Tomorrow I will scratch under his chin the way he likes and burble baby-talk nonsense into his pointy little ears and all will be forgiven. I think. Then again, it’s hard to tell with his sphinx-like poker face. I’ll have to hope he doesn’t start looking for a more appreciative audience on the internet!

 

by E K Carmel – Flickr WANA Commons

 

Are you addicted to cats on the internet? Are you a fan of either real-life or internet kittehs? Have you ever visited icanhas.cheeseburger.com? (warning: insanely addictive!) Why do you think cats totally rule the internet and will any animal ever unseat them? I’ll be napping in a sunny spot, waiting to hear from you… 

It’s a Guy Thing….

I love men.  Really, I do. 

I know I frequently mention that I live in The Testosterone Zone.  I have two sons and my hubby.  For a while my nephew lived with us.  One of the two dogs is male.  Yeah.  I like men, and I love having them in my life.  They’re “Guys.”  And I’m okay with it.  Most of the time.

What I DON’T get however are “Guy Things.”

You know what I mean, ladies.  What’s up with putting the milk carton (Or any other beverage) back in the fridge with less than one oz. of milk left in it?  Or drinking from the carton? 

How is that….cool?  Good?  Helpful?  I don’t even know what makes guys do this.  Women seldom drink from any kind of carton because if we spill it, there goes the blouse, or the scarf or whatever we’re wearing. 

And if we somehow were to successfully navigate drinking from the carton, our own mothers would rise up and smite us, or the phone would ring and it would BE your mother calling and you’d have to confess. 

Seconds of endless silence would ensue, shocked silence at that.  “You did…what?”

“Drank from the carton.  Like a guy.”

“What on EARTH would you want to do THAT for?”

Grins.  Can’t you just hear that?  Isn’t that how it would go in your world too?

Now, I’m a self-confessed tomboy.  I love most “guy stuff” as you all know.  Tanks, planes, weapons, BOOM!, trucks, heavy equipment, demolition.  I’m there.  But I just cannot – CAN NOT – drink from the milk or OJ carton.  Can’t do it.

And there’s those other things.  Serious things which are breaches of marital bliss. 

Men want to leave the toilet seat up, all the dang time.  I solved this in my household by telling each and everyone in it that the seats are both DOWN, all the time. 

Otherwise, the dog drinks from the bowl, I told them.  Not pretty, not good.  I further waxed eloquent and told them that since I clean the toilets with noxious chemicals, I don’t want the dog drinking from the bowl, lest vet bills ensue. 

Bwahahahaha!.  So far this strategy has worked.  You see, it HAD to be a strategy because in another “guy thing” way, men see nothing intrinsically wrong with the dog drinking from the (clean) toilet water. 

“You cleaned the toilet,” they reason.  “The water’s refreshing when you flush, and it’s clean water.  What’s the problem?”

Urg. 

Okay, distracted for a minute.  It’s the seat-up-seat-down thing that’s really at issue here.  For convenience, they’d like those two seats to be up.  All the time.  No work for them.   

Now for us, this is thoroughly annoying. 

WE have to sit.  Every time.  No standing.  (Bummer about that, anatomy wise, isn’t it?)  And I, for one, do not like to go into the bathrooom in the middle of the night and risk sitting on…..nothing. 

Water skiing at 3 a.m. just makes me want to go DUMP water on my spouse and children at 3 a.m. 

So I say to my boys, large and small, “Let’s avoid that, shall we?  And put the seats down.  Besides…you know…the dog issue!”  Grins.  Mostly, like I said, I get compliance. 

It’s a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

And while I’m on a “Guy Thing” rant, what’s up with putting things on the counter NEXT to the trash can.  Things which need to go IN the trash can. 

How hard is it to just  PUT.  THEM. IN? 

I just don’t get how this saves them (or ME) any time, to put something NEXT to the can rather than IN the can.  Or when my beloved, darling husband, just the other day, set the empty milk jug on the edge of the sink. 

Just left it there. 

How hard was it to rinse it and put it in recycling, less than one step away?  Which I did, because having it sit on the edge of the sink was blocking my use of the sink.  Took me about 4.5 seconds.  Maybe less.  Hello!?!  Why was it sitting there? 

He had no explanation, just look baffled that I would ask.

I guess it’s just a Guy Thing.

So what’s your pet peeve about your guy? 

I know you probably forgive him, just like I do, but what does your honey-do that’s a “Honey, PLEASE DON’T!” in your playbook?

Don’t even get me started about the wet towels on the floor.  Really.  Don’t.

And do you hear your mother/grandmother/auntie/sister in your head if you drink out of the carton?  Grins.

Tell…tell….

Doggone It!

By Jeanne Adams

Are you a Dog Person or a Cat Person?

If you’ve ever owned a dog – or been owned by one – even if you don’t have one now, you know you’re ONE OF THEM.

The Dog People.

The people who carry a spare leash in the car in case they come across the neighbor’s dog, loose and running toward the street. You’re the one who’s been known to have three or four manky, disgusting tennis balls rolling around in your van or car, as well as having spare “dog towels” in the trunk. You’re the one who bought special protective covers for your car seats, or even better, a ramp so your older dog could still go for rides with you. Your car windows have that special doggy imprint…you may even have one of those bumper stickers that says I HEART My Bouvier de Flanders. (Yes, that is a dog) Or one that says, My Mutt Can Beat Up Your Purebred.

You laughed uproariously at the Pedigree Super Bowl Commercial featuring the odd pets-that-were-not-dogs.

You laugh at Frazier’s dog, Eddie.

You buy your dog presents for the holidays.

Yep. Dog Person. (You Cat People are a whoooollllleeee different kettle of fish, so to speak. I’m gonna talk about your proclivities on the 19th….)

Dogs are wonderful creatures, really. Loyal. Protective. Funny. Sympathetic. Pick an adjective.

Introduce two true Dog People and they’ll be happy for hours telling dog stories. It’s even worse if they share a breed-specific scenario – i.e. put two Yorkie owners together and the “ooh, my Chester just…” stories go on, and on, and on. Dogs are great conversation starters. A single-guy friend of mine calls his dog, Hefty, a chick-magnet.
(While this picture isn’t Hefty, it looks like him. So, you can see, Hefty is just that, and has been from puppyhood.)
Hefty turns heads wherever he goes, that’s for sure.

As a reader, I love it when there’s a dog in the book. I so enjoyed hearing about Pirate, the talking Jack Russell in Angie Fox’s Accidental Demon Slayer. I also loved hearing about the motorcycle clubs for dogs and their owners.

Our own Donna MacMeans is featured in an anthology called Tails of Love (June , 2009), with her story Lord Hairy. (The proceeds go to a no-kill animal shelter)

In Nora Robert’s Dancing on Air, the hero’s dog Lucy, the black lab, stole my heart, as did Moe, the mutt in Robert’s Key trilogy.

As I’ve gotten email about my first book, Dark and Dangerous, one of the most-mentioned characters is Shadow, the German Shepherd.

I love talking about my own dogs. (No, you wouldn’t have guessed, right?) I LOL about Facebook now having a Dogbook section so your dog can Friend other people’s dogs. Isn’t it amazing how much time we devote to playing, walking, grooming, checking, washing, vetting and finding a place for Rover to stay when we go to the beach? (The horrible rental people at the beach don’t allow dogs, you know. Terrible thing. Sigh.) Even then, we call home to be sure they’re okay. For instance, my friend called me from Greece, just to check on her Golden Retriever.

From Greece. Seriously.

Some people go so far as to have their dogs as best man or woman. My hubby and I didn’t do that, but it did cross my mind. And even though we didn’t have the dogs in the wedding, we DID have a picture taken with them. What do you think of it? :> Its one of my favorite photos ever.

Like I said, Dog People are….crazy.

They develop clubs and games and sports for their dogs. I’m not just talking confirmation showing, or obedience trials, or field trials or agility. All that’s fun, but it’s kind of like what many of the breeds do when they’re working, or herding, or sporting. No, these clubs are for things that have nothing to do with actual “working” dogs, like retrievers or gun dogs.

Picture a scene with me. Summer on the lake, two guys sitting at sunset drinking a beer, their very wet, happy and tired dogs by their sides. I imagine it went like this:

“You know, I don’t like guns or hunting, but my dog sure likes the water.” Takes a swig. “Like today. Couldn’t keep him out’a the water.”

“Yeah, mine too.” Amiable silence. Frogs croak. “You know, Stud jumps off that dock until he’s exhausted.”

“Yeah, Fluffy does too. Hey how far do you think your dog jumps?”

“Really far. Farther than your dog.”

“Like H*ll. We should measure it and see.”

Enthusiastically, “Yeah, yeah, and Fluffy can beat Stud in Dock Diving.”

And Dock Diving was born…
And Fly Ball.
And the Terrier Races.
And we won’t even get into the any costume and sweaters contests, and not just at Halloween.

I’ve shown Dalmatians for years. I’ve had several champions and one Best in Show Winner. Now, with my new dog Diver, the Irish Water Spaniel, I’m going to try obedience, agility, and perhaps, Dock Diving. :>

All in my spare time, that is…hahahahahahaha.

So, the question for the day is, Cat or Dog or Both? (Louisa, I already know your answer!)
What’s your favorite romance with a dog in it?
What’s your favorite “dog book” from childhood?

Hey, Dog People! You’ll want to tune in tonight (Monday) and tomorrow night (Tuesday) if you live in the USA, for the world famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog show. It’s on the USA Network. Four groups tonight, three groups and Best In Show tomorrow night. I’ll be watching to see if any of my dog-show-pals win their Breed and go to group.

Can A Novel Change A Life?

by Cassondra Murray
I’m supposed to have an article written for the blog, darn it. Tomorrow (today as you read this–Friday Sept 7, 2007) is my blog day. But I’m pacing about the house at nearly midnight, restless. I’ve splattered some watercolor paint across a piece of paper —ruined what might have been a decent painting—in my effort to focus and write about something of interest to my Bandita sisters and to you who visit our lair, but I can’t quite muster light and fun tonight.

I know why. It’s almost September 11th.

9-11.

Flash back with me, six years ago today. Are you there?

In exactly four days, the WTC towers will fall. In exactly SEVEN days—NEXT Friday, I will be on my way to New York with my Search & Rescue Dog Team to search through rubble and pick up pieces of people.

We were there for only a week, but it was a week that shifted my soul.

In the aftermath our team and our dogs went through massive depression and slow healing. We spoke to group after group of people who longed to help and yet felt helpless. They thought their efforts small—giving blood, sending food, clothing, or money. But their efforts were not small.

In times like that, every person counts.

Every flag waved, every song written, every prayer said helped us as individuals, a nation, and a world, get through an awful time. In a lot of the talks we gave, a particular question came up repeatedly. They asked, “Cassondra, why did you get into K-9 Search & Rescue?”

The answer I gave—and still give–makes some people laugh out loud, but I’m betting you’ll understand.

Seventeen years ago I was a devoted reader of category romance. And in one of those category novels all those years ago, the heroine was a Search & Rescue professional. I loved her story. Somewhere in my piles and boxes of books, I still have that novel. I can’t tell you the title or the author, because I couldn’t find it on short notice—I hadn’t planned to talk about it, or SAR dogs. But even today I could tell you the heroine’s story. That’s how good it was. I searched for it tonight because I wanted, right here in the Bandit lair, to thank that writer publicly.

I’d never heard of Search & Rescue until I read that book.

Her story showed me a way I could give back to my community. I love animals, so K-9 SAR became my volunteer passion for the next fifteen years. Our team trained with the best and brightest SAR professionals. We searched for drowning victims, murder victims, lost kids and old folks with Alzheimer’s disease. We were placed on standby after the bombing in Oklahoma City, earthquakes in Peru and floods in Asia. We trained and we searched as though we had a world to save. And on 9-11-01 we did.

We were ready. I was ready. Because of that category romance I’d read so many years before about a sheriff’s deputy in the southwest—a tortured heroine who was a SAR professional.

I could list a long bibliography of books which have changed my life. In truth, I think every one I read changes me somehow.

But none so much as this one. It wasn’t the biggest plot, nor the darkest nor most complex I’ve read. But it was honest and it touched me. Because of that book I made a decision–took a direction in my life that would, years later, put me on a plane with a dog draped across my lap, headed toward an awful pile of twisted steel, concrete, and people. And because of that book, every September about this time, my heart goes back to NYC and I can’t think about much else. So since it’s my day to blog, you, my sisters, friends, and readers, get to hear the story.

Nowadays when I say I write romance, and certain people get little smirks on their faces, I don’t much care. They don’t know the half of it. They’ve no idea the power that lies in stories of loss and love and happy-ever-after. But I do. I know their power first hand.

Has a book ever changed your life?

Where were you this time six years ago?

And when you needed to escape it, to believe and hope again, did you, perhaps, read?

And was it, by any chance, a romance?